Salad Days

Summer is in full swing in Maine, something that doesn’t tend to happen until the 4th of July holiday. Then we all scramble to make the most of our two months of warmth and long days of sunshine. Along with warmth and sun comes vigorous garden growth—at least of the things that don’t get devoured by critters and pests who are just as happy about the new greenery as the gardeners are. (Can you tell that I’m just a wee bit angry that my brassicas are getting munched on by tiny green worms?) A few things that have been productive so far in our garden this year are pictured below: purple-top turnips, sugar snap peas and mixed salad greens.

While I found the turnips incredibly photogenic, I was at a loss for something creative to do with them (no, roasting with olive oil and salt does not count). So I requested ideas from Facebook friends, which, much to my delight, was a good move. Turns out FB is good for something besides wasting time! From roasting with garam marsala to grating and putting in a slaw or frittata, there were several excellent suggestions. The one that captured my imagination the most, though, was from Ellen Strickler at Willow Hill Springs Farm. She suggested slicing them thin and drizzling with plum vinegar and sesame oil. I loved the idea of eating them raw and the dressing sounded divine, but I also love turning a salad into a meal in the summer. So with other items I had on hand, I made a salad comprised of our mixed greens (which include lots of lovely Asian greens like tatsoi and pac choi grown from Johnny’s Seeds premium greens mix), the purple-top turnips and Green Spark Farm’s scarlet salad turnips grated, toasted sesame seeds and farm fresh hard-boiled eggs, topped off with the sesame oil plum vinegar dressing. Having grated veggies in a salad completely changes the texture and feel of it, and in a good way I think. I also really like the Asian elements of this dish (daikon would be a great turnip substitute). It makes it just enough different from your standard summer salad that you’ll want to have it over and over again until that pile of purple-top turnips is all gone! And then you’ll mourn their absence.

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